Bama Hoops Hype

RECAP: Alabama Falls in Auburn with Defensive Letdown

Alabama Men's Basketball

Alabama needed one of its best performances of the season to win in a hostile Auburn Arena. And the Tide did not come close to delivering.

Auburn avoided a season sweep at the hands of its rival with a 90-71 win on Wednesday night. The Tigers had four of their seven players score in double figures and made 12 3-pointers to dominate the best scoring defense in the SEC.

Alabama (17-11, 8-7 SEC) allowed a season high in points, 3-pointers made and assists. The defense held the Tigers to just 42.6 percent shooting but the home team was able to attempt 16 more shots because of an advantage in turnovers and rebounds. Auburn scored 28 points of the Tide’s 17 turnovers and 17 second chance points on 14 offensive rebounds.

The visitors had a decent night on the offensive end but could find very little production outside of Collin Sexton. In his first game against the cross-state rivals, Sexton finished with 25 points while shooting 8-for-12 from the field. The freshman finished with a team-high five turnovers though and his team was outscored by 23 points during his 32 minutes on the court. Alabama is now 2-6 when Sexton scores 23 points or more.

Braxton Key finished with a pretty good stat line but seemed to struggle with decision making throughout the night. The sophomore finished with 11 points and 8 rebounds but had four turnovers of his own. Key also added an assist and a block in 26 minutes off the bench.

Key was joined by Avery Johnson Jr. off the bench as the Tide outscored Auburn 27-24 in bench points. The head coach’s son finished with 10 points, two rebounds and two assists before fouling out after 24 minutes on the court. Johnson Jr. made a couple of big plays throughout the night to keep Alabama close.

The Crimson Tide never led in the game and trailed by as many as 24 points. Auburn set the tone early with a 14-2 run to start the game and never looked back. The game was tied just once after the tip off after an 8-0 run by Alabama tied the game with 3:25 to go in the first half. The Tigers quickly responded with an 8-0 run of their own and took a 40-35 into the locker room at halftime.

Auburn (24-4, 12-3) led 55-52 with 12:20 to go in the game but used a 31-10 run over an eight minute stretch to put the game away. The hosts shot 53 percent from the floor in the second half.

Chuma Okeke fueled the second half run, scoring 13 points in the game’s final 17 minutes. The freshman played 34 minutes off the bench and finished with 16 points and 10 rebounds for his second double-double of the season.

Jared Harper, Sexton’s high school teammate, was a big part of the quick start for Auburn. The sophomore scored 16 points in the first half and finished with a team-high 21 points. Harper added six assists and four steals in 37 minutes.

Alabama will return to Coleman Coliseum for a two-game home stretch. The Crimson Tide host Arkansas on Saturday in a game between two of the six SEC teams tied for third place. The game is scheduled to tip off at 5 p.m. CT and will be televised on SEC Network.

Caleb Turrentine is the editor for Bama Hoops Hype. You can follow him on Twitter for in-game updates at @BamaHoopsHype.

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